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Published: June 06, 2009 11:39 pm     

BOYS TRACK: Tsembelis wins one-mile showdown

By Nate Beutel and David J. Hill
Greater Niagara Newspapers

YORKSHIRE — Saturday’s boys Division I one-mile race was built up as a showdown between the area’s two best distance runners.

And it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Grand Island senior Evan Tsembelis edged Hamburg’s Joe Whelan by less than a tenth of a second to capture the large school title at the Section VI Track & Field Championships at Pioneer High School.

“I saw all the people standing at the fence and I could hear them yelling our names the whole way,” Tsembelis said. “This was definitely one of the most exciting races I’ve ever been involved in.”

The duo were neck-and-neck through roughly the first 1,400 meters until Tsembelis made a move, taking a sizable lead. As the tandem headed for home, though, Whelan began to kick, causing the crowd to go into a frenzy.

“I could hear things getting louder, and you only think the worst at that point,” Tsembelis admitted.

But Whelan ran out of real estate and Tsembelis leaned across the finish line just ahead, capturing his second individual crown of the weekend. He also won the 800 Friday.

“I’m very happy with the way I’ve ran this weekend,” he said. “Now I can choose what I feel better with for states next weekend.”

Tsembelis was not the only local who endured a close finish Saturday.

Niagara Falls’ Cordell Johnson overcame a slow start to win the boys Division I 400 meters by one one-hundredth of a second over West Seneca East’s Jesse Fodero.

“I was tired because the wind was so strong on the backstretch, but I never gave up and I was strong enough to catch up and win,” Johnson said.

His teammate Johnny Mallard also picked up a narrow win in the 200, edging Sweet Home’s Ken Anaya. Brian Archie, who earned his second sectional championship of the weekend by winning the triple jump, lost by an equally small margin in the 100 to Brandon Gilbert of South Park.

North Tonawanda junior Jared Quinn used a second wind to capture the Division I 3,200 steeplchase. Quinn allowed a few of his competitors to catch up late in the race before pulling away during the final 200 meters.

“Usually I have some extra gas in the tank and good thing I did today,” Quinn said. “This feels great.”

Lewiston-Porter senior Robby Seyler accomplished his goal of a sectional title, winning the pentathlon with a total of 2,969 points. His second-place finish in the 1,600 sealed the victory. Seyler was in third place, 54 points behind the leader, going into Saturday’s final events. After four events, he had taken an 82-point lead. Seyler recorded a personal best 20-2.5 in the long jump.

Relays from Grand Island and Lockport picked up wins, with the GI quartet edging Lockport in the 1600 relay (3:28.16). Lockport won the 3200 relay in 8:05.25.

Other local Division I top-five finishers included: Kenmore West’s Justin Salas (second, 400 intermediate hurdles), North Tonawanda’s Dustin Johnson (fifth, 400 intermediate hurdles), Niagara Falls’ Oraine Allen (fifth, 200), Niagara-Wheatfield’s Jim Donner (fourth, shot put), Kenmore West’s Matt Chase (third, 3,2000 steeplechase), Lockport’s Alex Lennert (fourth, 3,2000 steeplechase), Niagara Falls’ Durelle Crittenden (fourth, 110 high hurdles), Niagara-Wheatfield’s Derek Kratts (fourth, high jump), Ken West’s Nick Cahill (third, triple jump), Lockport’s Dillon Kane (fourth, 400), Niagara Falls’ John Mosley (fourth, 1500), Ken West’s Carl Brunner (fifth, 1600), the 400 relay teams from Niagara Falls (second), Grand Island (third) and Niagara-Wheatfield (fifth), Lockport’s 1600 relay (second),

Other local Division II top-five finishers included: Barker’s Tyler Scheving (fifth, 1,600), Tonawanda’s Paul Raynor (fourth, shot put), Medina’s John Louis Pane (third, 3,200 steeplechase), Royalton-Hartland’s Jeff Swick (fifth, 110 high hurdles), Newfane’s Adam Irr (third, 1,600), Tonawanda’s Paul Rayner (fourth, shot put) and Newfane’s 3200 relay (second).